I read a lot of modern writing: out of 45 books read in 2007, a total of two were published over 100 years ago (Much Ado About Nothing and – a religious text – The Book of Mormon). But I have a friend who loves the old stuff, and this quote from Charles Lamb – published in 1825 – captures something of that:
Rather than follow in the train of this insatiable monster of modern reading, I would forswear my spectacles, play at put, mend pens, kill fleas, stand on one leg, shell peas, or do whatever ignoble diversion you shall put me to. Alas! I am hurried on in the vortex. I die of new books, or the everlasting talk about them. . . . I will go and retrieve myself with a page of honest John Bunyan, or Tom Brown. Tom anybody will do, so long as they are not of this whiffling century.
Mr Lamb, I am a slave to the insatiable monster and am loving it! His “insatiable monster” makes me think of the spirit No Face in the film Spirited Away, who becomes a giant black blob, gobbling up everything in its wake. Somebody shovel a few more audiobooks into my brain, please.
* The quote is proximately from Anne Fadiman’s book of essays At Large and At Small.